Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What Is An Epidemiologist

What is an Epidemiologist's Job Description? 

Epidemiologists can be separated into two groups—research and clinical. Research epidemiologists conduct research in an effort to eradicate or control infectious diseases that affect the entire body, such as AIDS or typhus. Others may focus only on localized infections of the brain, lungs, or digestive tract, for example. Research epidemiologists work at colleges and universities, schools of public health, medical schools, and research and development services firms. For example, Federal Government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Defense, may contract with a research firm’s epidemiologists to evaluate the incidence of malaria in certain parts of the world. While some perform consulting services, other research epidemiologists may work as college and university faculty.

Clinical epidemiologists work primarily in consulting roles at hospitals, informing the medical staff of infectious outbreaks and providing containment solutions. These epidemiologists sometimes are referred to as infection control professionals, and some of them are also physicians. Epidemiologists who are not physicians often collaborate with physicians to find ways to contain diseases and outbreaks. In addition to traditional duties of studying and controlling diseases, clinical epidemiologists also may be required to develop standards and guidelines for the treatment and control of communicable diseases. Some clinical epidemiologists may work in outpatient settings.

Working Conditions Epidemiologists usually work indoors, in a laboratory or university. Accuracy and follow through are very important. Biological and medical scientists usually work regular hours in offices or laboratories and usually are not exposed to unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

Epidemiologists should be able to work independently or as part of a team and be able to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing. Those doing field research in remote areas must have physical stamina.

Salary Range    Median annual earnings of wage and salary epidemiologists were $61,400 in 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $49,500 and $76,700. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,500, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,800.

Educational Requirement: 

The minimum educational requirement for epidemiology is a master’s degree from a school of public health. Some jobs require a Ph.D. or medical degree, depending on the work performed. Epidemiologists who work in hospitals and healthcare centers often must have a medical degree with specific training in infectious diseases. Some employees in research epidemiology positions are required to be licensed physicians because they must administer drugs in clinical trials.

Epidemiologists who perform laboratory tests often require the knowledge and expertise of a licensed physician in order to administer drugs to patients in clinical trials. Epidemiologists who are not physicians frequently work closely with one.

Very few students select epidemiology for undergraduate study. Undergraduates, nonetheless, should study biological sciences and should have a solid background in chemistry, mathematics, and computer science. Once a student is prepared for graduate studies, he or she can choose a specialty within epidemiology. For example, those interested in studying environmental epidemiology should focus on environmental coursework, such as water pollution, air pollution, or pesticide use. The core work of environmental studies includes toxicology and molecular biology, and students may continue with advanced coursework in environmental or occupational epidemiology. Some epidemiologists are registered nurses and medical technologists seeking advancement.

Recommended High School CoursesComputers and Electronics, Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics

Postsecondary Instructional ProgramsPhysics, Engineering and Technology, Chemistry, Biology, Computers and Electronics, Medicine and Dentistry, English Language

Certification and LicensingNone

Interest Area
InvestigativeInvolves working with ideas and requires an extensive amount of thinking.

Work Values
Social StatusLooked up to by others in their company and their community.
AchievementGet a feeling of accomplishment.
VarietyDo something different every day.
CreativityTry out your own ideas.
SecurityHave steady employment.
Ability UtilizationMake use of individual abilities.
Working ConditionsGood working conditions.
ActivityBusy all the time.
AutonomyPlan work with little supervision.
RecognitionReceive recognition for the work you do.
CompensationGet paid well in comparison with other workers.
ResponsibilityMake decisions on your own.

Critical ThinkingUse logic and analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches.
Active ListeningListen to what other people are saying and ask questions as appropriate.
WritingCommunicate effectively with others in writing as indicated by the needs of the audience.
Time ManagementManage one's own time and the time of others.
MathematicsUse math to solve problems.
Active LearningWork with new material or information to grasp its implications.
Complex Problem SolvingSolving novel, ill-defined problems in complex, real-world settings.
Reading ComprehensionUnderstand written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
SpeakingTalk to others to effectively convey information.
ScienceUse scientific methods to solve problems.

Oral ExpressionAble to convey information and ideas through speech in ways that others will understand.
Deductive ReasoningAble to apply general rules to specific problems to come up with logical answers, including deciding whether an answer makes sense.
Problem SensitivityAble to tell when something is wrong or likely to go wrong. This doesn't involve solving the problem, just recognizing that there is a problem.
Written ComprehensionAble to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Inductive ReasoningAble to combine separate pieces of information, or specific answers to problems, to form general rules or conclusions. This includes coming up with a logical explanation for why seemingly unrelated events occur together.
Written ExpressionAble to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Oral ComprehensionAble to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.


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